In the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, lost somewhere between the Hollywood set of Troy and Homer’s erotic tale of Calypso and Ulysses lies a picturesque archipelago of islands. Malta. These islands have been forgotten by time and bask in the never ending golden sun. Amongst the three main islands the population is no more than 400,000 inhabitants. I boarded a plane when I was three, along with my parents and came to live a better life in Australia. Yet, I have never really left the land of pastizzi, churches and Kinnie. While, I have only been back to Malta twice, on some days it feels like I have never left at all.
Malta is at the core of my identity. I love being Australian, and nothing will ever change that. But during the cold, bitter winter days that plague Melbourne, I do think about the crystal clear waters of the Blue Lagoon and how amazing hot chips taste after a swim at Ramla Bay. Long lazy siestas, hot summer nights. Just to close my eyes and be there, again.
Yet, the seasons always change and while I spend the winter longing for summer, I am never disappointed. Summer always comes. With summer comes Kinnie and nothing goes down better on a hot day than Kinnie.
Kinnie is by far Malta’s favourite drink and more importantly, my favourite drink. By definition, Kinnie is a unique tasting, alcohol-free, refreshing beverage. Its golden amber colour, and the fact that it is made from bitter oranges and a variety of aromatic herbs, give this beverage a bitter taste which is an excellent thirst quencher. This drink is ideal on its own, particularly with a slice of orange. It also mixes excellently with a number of alcoholic drinks and cocktails. But Kinnie is more than just a drink. It is part of my chain.
My cousins and I, we are The Kinnie Club. While we may all be individual squares that make up the crazy old crochet quilt we call our family – made from mismatched colours and left over balls of wool – we are still, just one, big quilt. We can laugh at each other, drive each other crazy, love each other blindly and disagree on almost everything.
Yet there is something distant in all of us that make us the same. Maybe it is the same sacrifice of our parents. Maybe it is the same responsibility of taking old, established traditions forward with our own children. Maybe it is as simple as having a weird obsession to clean our concrete driveways! I do know, that when I’m craving a Kinnie, there’s a good chance, one of my cousin’s is craving one too!
Some would say that the Kinnie tastes better in Malta. I don’t know why, but I think Kinnie tastes perfect – regardless where I happen to be while drinking one.
Do you have a favourite drink? What ties keep your family together?